The publisher of the Loudoun Tribune was arrested Thursday night and charged with 11 counts of wire fraud, as well as illegally possessing a gun and lying to the FBI.
Brian Reynolds, 52, of Leesburg, Va., launched the Tribune in 2016, mainly as an online site, but it has also published print editions. An indictment unsealed in federal court in Alexandria on Friday alleges Reynolds created phony advertising contracts, claiming various companies had agreed to advertise in the Tribune. Reynolds would then allegedly show the phony contracts to potential investors, or misstate the advertising revenue of the Tribune, to persuade people to invest in the Tribune, the indictment alleges. In addition to the wire fraud charges, the government is also seeking a forfeiture of money or property of $512,000, which prosecutors estimate is what Reynolds obtained as a result of the alleged scams.
Reynolds has a felony record, including forgery and bad check charges, and conducting a wire fraud scheme in Fairfax County in the mid-1990s, for which he was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison. A second indictment unsealed Friday alleges Reynolds owned eight guns and five boxes of ammunition, a violation of federal law because of his conviction. Reynolds is also charged with lying to the FBI in 2017 about owning the guns. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said Reynolds was arrested about 7 p.m. Thursday. Reynolds made an initial court appearance Friday afternoon where he was ordered held without bond in the Alexandria jail until a detention hearing on Tuesday.
In 2015, Reynolds worked closely with Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) on his reelection campaign, including obtaining and distributing emails written by Chapman’s political opponent and distributing campaign literature with Chapman. Chapman told The Washington Post in 2015 that he was aware Reynolds had “some troubles in the past” but that he had done good work for the sheriff and other Republican candidates. The Loudoun sheriff’s office has a general order that states employees “are prohibited from regular or continuous associations or dealing with … persons in the community with a reputation for involvement in felonious or criminal behavior."
“What am I supposed to do: not use him?” Chapman said in 2015. “We don’t hang out socially. All he does is campaign literature for me. He’s not privy to sensitive information. Everything we do is a business relationship.”
Chapman did not respond to a request for comment Friday. There are no allegations in the indictment involving Chapman.
Reynolds’s criminal history dates to 1985, and he apparently omitted parts of that history when petitioning to have his gun rights restored by a Loudoun circuit judge in 2013. As an 18-year-old in Fairfax, he was charged with fraud and forgery involving a $4,000 loan and a $4,000 check, court records show. He pleaded guilty in December 1985, and his bond was revoked after Fairfax prosecutors claimed he broke into a girlfriend’s residence with a gun. Reynolds was sentenced to two years in prison, and was paroled after six months.
In 1991, Reynolds was arrested for writing a bad check in Fairfax, and later indicted on six fraud counts and one grand larceny charge. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four months in jail, records show.
Also in 1991, Reynolds was charged in Florida with second-degree grand theft for failing to return a rental car from Enterprise. He pleaded no contest in 1992, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay Enterprise $8,767, court records show.
Then in October 1995, he was arrested for running a scam out of his home in Herndon. Court records show that Reynolds would order computer parts from various vendors, not pay for the parts, and then resell them. He was indicted in March 1996 on 75 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Reynolds pleaded guilty to two counts, and at sentencing a federal prosecutor said that Reynolds was “an inveterate liar and manipulator...He lied early and he lied often.” He was sentenced to 78 months in prison.
But ten years after his release, Reynolds was married with two children and running his own graphic design shop in Loudoun. In 2012 he successfully petitioned then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) for restoration of his civil rights. The restoration order listed his Fairfax convictions, but not his Florida or federal convictions. When Reynolds filed a petition to have his rights to possess firearms restored, he also did not mention his Florida or federal convictions. “Overall, it has been nearly 20 years since Petitioner has had a brush with the law,” Reynolds stated inaccurately in January 2013. His gun rights were restored in February 2013 by Loudoun Circuit Court Judge James H. Chamblin.
This story has been updated.